Tenants at a property in New York City just struck a deal in what is both a wildly reasonable ask but also a crucial development at a time of increasing surveillance—their landlord has to give them physical keys to their building.
Five tenants in Hell’s Kitchen sued their landlord in March after the owners installed a Latch smart lock on the building last year. It is unlocked with a smartphone, and reportedly granted tenants access to the lobby, elevator, and mail room. But the group that sued their landlords saw this keyless entry as harassment, an invasion of privacy, and simply inconvenient.
“We are relieved that something as simple as entering our home is not controlled by an internet surveillance system and that because we will now have a mechanical key they will not be tracking our friends and our family,” 67-year-old tenant Charlotte Pfahl, who has lived in the building for 45 years, told the New York Post.
The article mentions that a smart locked trapped the resident in his apartment, but I think he actually decided not to go out because he doesn’t have a smart phone needed to use the elevator. In the original New York Times article it says:
McKenzie’s 93-year-old husband has been a virtual shut-in since the new technology was introduced last year because he doesn’t use a cellphone and has difficulty walking up the three flights of stairs to their apartment, she said. Tenants in the complex at 517-525 West 45th St. don’t need to use the lobby to access the stairwells to the buildings, which are between four and five stories each.
I can definitely see how a lock that is only controlled by a phone could be a problem, and the court agreed – the tenants now have keys. What do you think?